E-Commerce site ‘SHEIN’ in Intellectual Property Infringement Battle

Chinese e-commerce shop ‘SHEIN’ has been hit with additional Intellectual Property Infringement battles, after previously resolving a 2018 lawsuit with world-wide denim-seller ‘Levi’s’ through a settlement, after claims were made that SHEIN used their iconic stitch pattern on the pack pockets of their products.

Established in 2008, the site’s products are mainly aimed towards Generation Z, while focusing on fast-fashion and extremely low-price clothes, boasting postage to more than 200 countries, and continuing to add more than 150 new items onto the site each day. Since the start of the global pandemic, where online shopping has become more valued, SHEIN has been valued at around $15 billion, (£10.8 billion) and was ranked at the top of the App Store for both Apple and Google mobile products in May of this year.

By adding hundreds of new products each day, with a turn-around time period of 2 weeks for clothes to be put on the online shelves from being designed, it comes as no surprise that they could run out of design ideas and products. This appears as present, as SHEIN are now facing multiple different Intellectual Property Infringement lawsuits, including Copyright and Trade mark infringements, for their designs. 

Despite originating in Nanjing, China, the online store mainly focuses their presence overseas, with a large percentage of their customers coming from the USA, Europe and the Middle East. This forces the famous website and app to have to keep up with the latest fashion trends, landing them in legal turmoil. 

In August 2020, small business owner, Emma Warren, of ‘Emma Warren Design’, claimed that SHEIN had copied her bee stitching design on their sweater. Not only have they experienced problems with their clothing designs, but in November 2020, earrings were the topic of the talks, after one pair of earrings featured the same design, colours and shapes as, California-based designer brand, ‘Kikay’s ‘frog love’ earrings, who also claims that the company has stolen her Intellectual Property, after posting an image of her designs against the website’s products where the similarity is uncanny.

The most recent, and most public legal battle has been conducted by Dr. Martens’ owner, AirWair International, after launching a trade mark infringement lawsuit, claiming that SHEIN has a ‘clear intent to sell counterfeits’ of their much-loved boots. The suit, launched in California, also states that the company has used genuine images of Dr. Martens footwear, and have included their name on the fake products in a bid to ‘mislead and entice customers’ to purchase the shoes that are sold at a fraction of the cost of a real Dr. Martens shoe. 

Brands have said that it is SHEIN’s responsibility ‘to do the due diligence, because until they stop running their business this way, they are continually hurting small businesses.’

Since SHEIN has received the backlash, SHEIN have released a statement saying that they ‘take every complaint on Intellectual Property Right Infringements seriously’ and continue to ‘conduct in-depth investigations on such complaints’ and take swift actions’ to resolve the conflict. However, it has been said that some individuals feel as though SHEIN have issued a blanket denial of the claims.

A hearing is scheduled for later this year, where multiple of the claims will be brought forward.

If you have any questions or queries regarding any of the topics within this article, or would like legal help concerning Intellectual Property, please do not hesitate to get in contact with the team at Lawdit today.

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